Mezzi Rigatoni Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale

I have been aboslutley dying to make this Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale from one of my all-time fav foodies, The Modern Proper, and finally had the chance the other day! You could actually taste the excitement in the air as I decided this is what I was going to do with my Sunday ๐Ÿ™‚

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In my excitement, I have to admit that I didn’t do the greatest grocery shopping… When I got home and pulled out my ingredients it turned out that the “kale” I had purchased was actually mustard greens (for three seconds I wondered if that would work before smelling them and deciding absolutely not). Back to the store for me! In my defense, the mustard greens were mixed in on the kale shelf and I had grabbed the wrong one ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Still have no idea what I’m actually going to do with those mustard greens…

This is the first soup I had ever made with kale. I was shocked when I looked at the soup base I had created, and then read the instructions to put an entire bunch of kale into the pot. Where is this going to go? Is this going to turn into a gross soupy salad? I was so impressed by how much it cooks down; it could truly take the entire bunch.

  • Tip: I would recommend slicing the kale (maybe a bit thicker than you would for a kale salad). I put them in as nearly whole leaves, and it was a lot to pull out in a spoonful. Either shred the kale a bit by hand, or you can fully chop it before putting it in so you’ll have more manageable pieces to eat.

Also, since I eat dairy free, I used coconut milk instead of the heavy cream. This wasn’t a disaster, but frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it. The flavor was pretty strong and that is just not the flavor that you want to come through with this soup. If you’re making a dairy free version, I would recommend going with A2 milk so you still have the regular milk flavor with none of the lactose (I also considered almond milk, but thought it might be a little funky as well. The challenges of dairy free cooking!).

Finally, the original recipe calls for tortellini, which I’m sure would be amazing, but of course there was none to be had when I was doing my shopping! Threw in a good chunky pasta for good measure!

You can find the full recipe here. Also, I topped mine with homemade croutons (not normally my style, but I made the bread as well – leftovers from our Holiday Star Bread master dough!)

Good luck! Absolutely recommend this one and will be making it again myself!

xx Jess

 

Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

If it’s not obvious, I’m in a huge squash mood. Fall has just started (seemingly) and I just can’t get enough! This week, I made Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash with a recipeย inspired by blogger Cherished Bliss.

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These are so cute. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. I bought a fairly large squash, so served mine as a main course. I also added wild rice and brocoli to the stuffing, so it was more substantial and could stand on its own (rather than as an appetizer as the recipe suggests). The squash is so sweet, and paired with hot Italian sausage, and a bit of bite from the apple, it’s the perfect fall dish!

Since I am lactose intolerant, I left out the cheese, but I’m sure it would still be phenomenal. Everything else I followed to the tee, and honestly, you don’t miss the cheese at all! I also think that if you wanted to make this dish a little lighter, you could use ground turkey (or a mix of turkey and sausage) to take a bit of the fat out.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

xx Jess

Tomato Cobbler

A perfect mix between a summer and fall dish, a Tomato Cobbler popped up on my radar this past week and I just had to try it. As soon as I tasted it, I knew that I would love to make a more fall-oriented version of this that would really almost become a chili (it would totally work!). On the other hand, you could also make this more of a ratatouille and use really any vegetables that you like (eggplant and squash would be amazing).

It’s the best kind of dish: a super simple concept that you can really take any direction you want!

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I actually used a combination of two recipes, largely pulling from this one on The Kitchn and then also some of the aspects of this one from Heartbeet Kitchen. My tomato base was more in line with Heartbeet Kitchen’s — with the celery, onion, etc. — but then I did the cornmeal biscuits on top. Also, I did not use any dairy, so left out all cheese and that wasn’t an issue!

The dish actually came out so naturally sweet, it was amazing! It smelled like heaven while it was cooking and then the flavors together were the perfect embodiment of summer ๐Ÿ™‚ The cornmeal biscuits worked well, but I would actually say that you should just use whatever cornmeal (or biscuit) recipeย  you like best and top with that. It can take it, it’s pretty forgiving!

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This was one of those recipes where I really missed having a backyard garden. I’m sure that at some point this summer, my Dad was wondering what to do with all of his tomatoes (let’s be serious, he canned them), and this would have been perfect!

You can find the full recipes I pulled from here: The Kitchn and Heartbeet Kitchen.

Happy cooking!

xx Jess

 

Chicken Piccata

A recurring dish in our kitchen is this fantastic Chicken Piccata from Cooking Light. I’m a huge Cooking Light fan in general, and this is one that just really hits the spot! Fair warning, it is relatively involved (especially for a Cooking Light recipe), but it’s nothing too difficult and is really worth the effort.

I don’t do a lot of meal planning, especially for meals made during the week. Weekdays, it’s all about making something relatively quick while still healthy, and generally only things that I know how to make without a recipe. If I know I’m going to have more time one evening for some reason, I might plan on making something a little more involved, but we’re probably talking a salad here (but I’ll actually follow a recipe and maybe there is some kind of interesting ingredient).

Last week, for whatever reason, the food I was making through the week just lined up perfectly and the leftovers fed into the next meal so well. Earlier in the week I had made a Farro and Kale Salad from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe (love ya, Food Network). I’ll keep those stories for another post, but the leftovers of that salad were amazing and carried us through the week.

So late in the week I made this Chicken Piccata, which was wonderful, and totally fresh. I paired it with the Farro and Kale Salad that we had made earlier in the week, and roasted up a handful of red potatoes and carrots (since you never have too many veggies, right?).

It was practically a little Thanksgiving meal at our house on a weeknight!

I was so impressed, but even better was that I hadn’t slaved away in the kitchen for hours to pull it off. It was honestly really well-placed leftovers ๐Ÿ™‚

For the Piccata recipe, there isn’t a thing I would change. This time, I did buy capers (I don’t personally like them, but understand they add a good flavor) and they were worth it. Also, I made the mistake of cutting the thin lemon slices and then trying to de-seed afterwards. Basically that just means you end up with 100 small seed pieces, rather than a handful of big seeds. Lesson kids, is to try to pull the seeds out as you are cutting just to save yourself the aggravation.

Seriously, book mark this one! It’s one of our favs. If you try it out, let me know what you think!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

 

Sweet Potato Nachos

My favorite way to find recipes that I want to make is by scrolling through Instagram. I have an entire folder of photos that are screenshots of things I would like to make (I dare say that maybe 30% of those will actually be made. And sometimes I’ll look back and be like whatttt was I thinking?! haha).

But these Sweet Potato Nachos from Healthy Gluten Free Family were one that caught my eye. For one, the entire recipe was gluten free, which isn’t something that I necessarily seek out, but always appreciate when a recipe just happens to be that way (naturally gluten free, rather than using substitute ingredient – like a gluten free pasta – to make it so).

Gluten intolerance runs in my family, so always appreciative of a good recipe!

The hardest part about these nachos was making the sweet potato chips. I don’t have a mandolin, so I cut these by hand = they were uneven and some burned to a crisp. Also, I tried to fit three baking sheets in my oven, and while it “worked,” it threw off the air flow and one sheet cooked (and burned) faster than the other two.

Also, to oil the sweet potatoes, I’m not sure if I was just being a gluton for punishment or read the directions wrong, but I laid all the slices out on the baking sheets, and then proceeded to brush each and every one with oil individually. On both sides. It’s called a bowl. Honestly, put them in a bowl, add in oil and salt (and anything else you want), mix it up and then lay them out on the sheets. Not sure why I didn’t think of that at the time!

In the end, they’re worth it!

Modifications:

  • I omitted the cheese so that these were dairy for me (repping that lactose intolerance!)
  • I added sauteed beef to give this a bit more protein
  • Vegetable / bean wise, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but they’re nachos and you can put whatever you want on them ๐Ÿ™‚ My version included black beans, corn, onions, beef, red peppers, orange baby tomatoes, and avocadoes along with some spices. Whatever you’ve got will be just perfect!

This Jess rankings:

  • Making it: 7/10 – very easy with a small exception for the chips
  • Eating it: 9/10 – super good. I will have to find a way to make the chips a bit crispier, but this was great. Really you can’t go wrong with any ingredients that you want to put on here.
  • Looking at it: 9/10 – stunnerrrrr, am I right? A little messy / organic / natural is totally my style and that’s exactly what you get here, plus the great colors of all the gresh ingredients.

You can find the full recipe linked here.